UAE hotel firm first to set up in Iran since revolution

Country's hospitality market has become more attractive since last month's nuclear deal

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UAE-based hotel management group Rotana is set to be the first international group to operate in Iran in over three decades.

The 1979 Islamic revolution - which overthrew the Western-backed Shah from power - ended dealings with foreign hotel chains.

However, after last month’s nuclear deal signed between the Islamic Republic and six world powers, the country’s hospitality market has become more attractive to hotel management companies.

Rotana is currently developing hotels in the capital Tehran and the pilgrimage city of Mashhad, due to be completed from 2015 onwards, according to UAE-based daily The National.

“Iran has a lot to offer commercially and culturally; trade has been phenomenal there,” said Omer Kaddouri, Rotana’s executive vice president and its chief executive, according to the newspaper.

In 2008, Dubai-based corporate giant Majid al-Futtaim acquired land to build a hotel in Iran, but later sold the plot.

“Iran’s years of isolation have left the hotel market very much in need of foreign expertise and investment, and there is considerable appetite within Iran to invest both in terms of funding and attracting suitable expertise,” said John Podaras, a Dubai-based partner at consultancy Hotel Development Resources, according to the daily.

Before the revolution, numerous luxury hotels in Iran were operated by international chains such as Hilton, Intercontinental, Hyatt and Sheraton.

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